Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — The State Board of Education (SBE) approved funding today for the Department of Public Instruction to kick off a statewide initiative to create a “portrait of a graduate” to better define the skills students need for success after high school. This work aligns with the SBE’s vision to ensure that every public school student in North Carolina is able to succeed academically and is prepared to pursue their chosen path after graduation. This “portrait” will eventually become a tool for districts to identify and highlight the skills, attributes and knowledge that students should possess when they graduate high school to be prepared for the post-secondary plans of their choice.

Once developed, this portrait will help parents, students and school leaders better understand the individual strengths and overall readiness of high school students for life after graduation. The portrait is intended to serve as a more balanced measure, demonstrating a student’s growth and achievement and ensuring their readiness for civic life, career or college. It will serve as a model ensuring that North Carolina schools are preparing every student for a successful future.

A portion of the approved funding will be used by the Department to contract with a vendor who will facilitate community stakeholder discussions throughout all eight state education regions. As North Carolina’s workforce needs vary widely across the state, the regionally held focus groups will help capture regional differences for the development of a statewide model. These discussions will revolve around the types of skills, attributes and knowledge that students should have developed for future success. The focus group discussions will be scheduled over the next few months and will involve a variety of stakeholders, including business owners, church and community representatives, higher-education leaders, school administrators, parents, educators, and students.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt stressed the importance in bringing together a variety of voices to identify the qualities to include in the portrait, while also emphasizing the need for North Carolina to develop such a tool.

“As technologies have advanced and the workforce evolved, so too have the skills employers are seeking” Truitt said. “The portrait will be an important way we better reflect the changing needs of the workforce as we seek input and feedback from employers, business leaders, and key stakeholders across the state.

“As we begin the process of identifying the skills and attributes students need upon graduating, North Carolina public schools can better prepare students to transition into the post-secondary plans of their choice, be it college, career, or enlistment.”

The portrait of a graduate is part of Operation Polaris, the superintendent’s four-year strategic vision that was unveiled in September. The portrait is part of that effort, which includes reforming accountability and testing in North Carolina’s K-12 schools.

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